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Greek state broadcaster remains off-air despite ruling


Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-06-19

Days after Greece’s top administrative court ordered authorities to reinstate state broadcaster ERT, the country’s fragile government coalition is struggling to agree on terms for turning television and radio signals back on.

Greek state broadcaster ERT’s television and radio remains off-the-air two days after the country’s top administrative court ordered the government to reverse its decision to shut down the company.

Despite the ruling, Greece’s fragile governing coalition is struggling to agree on terms for ERT to re-open.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras switched off ERT and fired its 2,600 staff last week to meet a public sector layoffs target set by Greece’s lenders, promising to inaugurate a more efficient and less expensive broadcaster at a later date.

However, he faced uproar both at home and abroad, with critics saying he was trampling on democratic institutions and coalition partners threatening to push for new elections.

It appears the court decision helped avoid dangerous early elections, but differences over how the ruling should be implemented persist.

Which way forward?

The Council of State said the government had the right to shut down ERT with the purpose of setting up a new, leaner successor. But the ruling added that a new, transitional broadcaster must immediately resume programmes.

Left-leaning coalition partners insist that ERT must immediately go back to its original 24-hour broadcasts schedule.

For its part, Samaras’ administration is working on a plan to get a fraction of news broadcasts back on the air temporarily, according to the Athens News Agency.

The government’s plan involves hiring some 30 journalists to produce three news bulletins a day for two months, until the new public broadcaster is rebuilt, ANA said.

Samaras will hold a crucial meeting with his coalition partners on Wednesday in an effort to unblock the impasse.

He has thus far refused to reinstate ERT under its previous format, claiming that the company cost 300 million euros annually and delivered poor ratings that were less than half of its private competitors.

The prime minister is under pressure by Greece's bailout lenders to meet the terms of a massive 240-billion-euro bailout for the debt-stricken country.

(FRANCE24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-06-19


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